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Rebounding Coal Mine Death Toll Prompts Another Crackdown
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The government has launched another crackdown on cover-ups and dishonest reports of colliery accidents filed by mine owners as the falling death toll rebounded in March.

The number of mine accidents fell 22.8 percent to 336 in the first quarter this year, while the death toll declined 15.6 percent to 661, said Huang Yi, spokesman with the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS).

But the number of coal mine accidents rose again at the end of March, with 83 people killed and missing from March 19 to 25, up 88.6 percent from the same period last year.

In February and March, dishonest reporting occurred in four coal mine accidents, in central China's Henan, north China's Shanxi and northeast China's Liaoning provinces, in which 66 people died in total.

"The frequent dishonest reporting of coal mine accidents delayed rescue work and had an extremely bad impact on the public, " said Huang.

The State Council has called for harsher punishments for those who cover up or make dishonest reports of accidents and attempt to escape responsibility.

The SAWS vowed to join with public security departments to crack down on crimes regarding safe production and bring those responsible to justice, said Huang.

(Xinhua News Agency April 18, 2007)

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